EDITORIAL - Cebu’s 2.7M votes worth more than thanks

(The Freeman) - January 7, 2016 - 9:00am

The number of registered voters in Cebu has risen from 2.5 million for the 2013 midterm elections to 2.7 million for the coming May 2016 presidential polls, further entrenching it at the number one spot nationwide for most number of voters. At far second is the province of Cavite with 1.8 million registered voters, closely followed by Pangasinan at third with 1.7 million voters.

This is the reason why Cebu gets frequent visits by politicians seeking national positions during every national election. A big win by any national politician in Cebu is certain to vastly improve that politician's chances in the national overall tally. Just try to imagine a politician winning even just one out of every two registered Cebuano voters. That already translates to more than a million votes to his name.

The best, if controversial, example of the so-called Cebu insurance was the win in Cebu, way back in 2004, of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo over Fernando Poe Jr. by over a million votes. It was precisely this number that she needed to prevail over the challenge posed by the late actor. If Arroyo lost in Cebu by a million votes in that election, history would have been different for all Filipinos.

The outcome became controversial when allegations that Arroyo cheated Poe in Cebu surfaced after all the votes were counted nationwide, allegations that Poe's adopted daughter Grace continues to pander to this day. The allegations, however, were preposterous and thus never proven. In fact, they could never be proven because no such cheating occurred. The allegations were simply woven out of thin air to soothe the hurt felt by poor losers.

But for as long as Cebu will remain to be the most vote-rich province in the country, it will never see an end to such kinds of allegations. For it is truly a big blow to any national candidate's chances to lose badly in Cebu. A pond teeming with 2.7 million fish to catch is a pond no candidate would wish to arrive late at. That is why even now, long before the official campaign period has started, the early birds are being true to form. They are coming and coming back early.

But while Cebu offers so much to candidates, it might be worthwhile to ask what the candidates might do for Cebu in return, in case they win on account of the Cebu vote. In fairness to Arroyo, who did not have to cheat in Cebu because she had all the officials from congressmen to governor to mayor down to barangay councilor under her wing, she truly showed her appreciation by pouring a lot of projects into the province.

The present administration, which also won in Cebu, has not similarly reciprocated, which brings us back to the question -- what can the national candidates do for Cebu and the Cebuanos in exchange for their confidence as expressed in their 2.7 million votes. Will it be a mere thank you or must the gratitude be expressed in more concrete terms beneficial to the well-being and further development of the province? This is the question to ask all national candidates courting Cebu's vote.


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